As another year draws to a close it is important to look back at what we have accomplished to better plan our goals for the new year. While we reflected the one thing that stuck with us was how much commitment Tulsa is showing to a renewed sense of community. A deep desire to be outdoors and a measurable value in what we have. Tulsa, again you leave us happy and speechless. Thank you.
Earlier this week, cold winds whipped a wildfire that burned a large section of Green Mountain, a popular trail running and hiking area near Lakewood, Colorado. Footage of the fire was dramatic, and there were moments when people wondered if nearby homes and apartments would need to be evacuated.
Halfway across the country, in eastern Tennessee, more fires — fueled by a deep and particularly nasty drought — ravaged the wooded hills and mountains of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, eventually surging into the popular tourist down of Gatlinburg. The results, as you may well know, were devastating: Hundreds of structures burned, including many homes and businesses, and eleven people were killed.
Investigators are still examining these fires to determine a cause. But one person, in North Carolina, has been arrested for intentionally setting a wildfire there, and there is some anecdotal evidence that the Green Mountain blaze was started by someone making a fire ring campfire high on the mountain. Officials in Tennessee say the wildfire that devastated Gatlinburg was caused by humans.
We bring this up because as it stands, northeastern Oklahoma is in a drought. There are rains expected to come within the next week, but for 2016, the Tulsa area has received 11 inches below what is normal thus far, fully a third less rain that what we typically see in a year.
It wasn’t that long ago, in 2011, that wildfires scorched a number of acres on Turkey Mountain, and if drought conditions persist, the risk of a repeat of that incident will rise. So here are some things to consider:
— Campfires or cooking fires are not allowed at Turkey Mountain. It might be tempting to find a quiet corner of the park and roast some marshmallows, but don’t do it. It puts the park at risk and is illegal.
— If you’re a smoker, refrain from doing do at Turkey Mountain. Hot ashes, cigarette butts and discarded matches can easily start a forest fire.
— Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trails, mostly out of consideration for people on foot or on bikes. But motorized vehicles can also spark fires from the heat generated by engine parts.
— Fireworks are illegal at Turkey Mountain and would be a major risk for wildfires.
— Avoid any other activities that would create sparks.
Many of you likely have noticed the charred trees serving as a reminder on the west side of Turkey Mountain. It’s critical that we take care of the woodlands at Turkey Mountain and other popular wildlands in northeastern Oklahoma. It’s even more urgent during times of drought, when tall grasses have gone dormant and are dry, and when fallen leaves and deadfall wood litters the forest floor. All of this is potential fuel for wildfires, and we certainly do not want to have a Green Mountain or Gatlinburg-type incident to happen here in Tulsa or anywhere else in northern Oklahoma.
We felt the need to mark the passing of a friend today. To echo the words of former Mayor Terry Young
“In 1977, at the urging of Tulsa Tribune editor John Drummond, I initiated the effort to acquire Turkey Mountain to preserve and designate as an urban wilderness park. The effort would not have been successful if it had not been for Chris Delaporte, former state parks director. Chris was serving as President Carter’s head of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation and approved a federal grant to match our local county money.”
Over the decades Chris has kept a watchful eye on Turkey Mountain from a distance. Each time a threat of development would emerge he would be in contact with friends here in Tulsa helping us to brain storm on the best ways to meet this challenge. Chris has been a long time friend to parks and wild spaces and his voice will be sorely missed.
Chris was the head of Baltimore’s Parks & Recreation department and was a noted and respected advocate for public space and outdoor recreation. He died recently of cancer.
To read more of this native Oklahoman’s life and legacy please visit his obituary in the Baltimore Sun
Mooser Creek at the north boundary of Turkey Mountain has been able to remain in reasonably good condition despite encroaching urbanization. How do we know? Mooser Creek is monitored by devoted Blue Thumb volunteers. Several of Turkey Mountain’s trails twist and turn and progress north to tie into areas along the southern bank of Mooser Creek.
Tulsa’s RiverParks Authority is pleased to announce Monarchs on the Mountain, a new festival celebrating the vital role Eastern Oklahoma plays in the Monarch Butterfly migration will be held September 24th, on Turkey Mountain. The festival will take place from 10:00 am, until 2:00 pm in the pavilion area of the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area near the main trailhead, 6850 S. Elwood Ave.
The day will be filled with fun and educational activities highlighting the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly, the Great Monarch Migration and the habitat of Turkey Mountain which supports a myriad of wildlife. Information will be available and plants may be purchased to help establish your own Monarch Waystation. Visitors can even make a seed ball to plant this fall. Monarch tagging will be demonstrated and butterflies will be released to join the southward migration to the Oyamel fir forests of Central Mexico. This free festival will appeal to all ages and food trucks will be on site. Come spend the day with us celebrating our unique place in the life of the Monarch!
This event is hosted by: RiverParks Authority in partnership with the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition, the Tulsa Audubon Society and The M.E.T. and supporters; Sustainable Tulsa, Blue Thumb, The Tulsa Zoo, City of Tulsa, Monarch Initiative of Tulsa, Westside Y and the USFWS.
Please help us spread the word by distributing the promotional flyer and sharing our event on Facebook.
For more information contact Marci Hawkins, steering committee chair at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the eve of National Trails Day, more good news came to Turkey Mountain.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of the Interior named Turkey Mountain’s Red, Yellow and Blue trails as part of the country’s National Recreational Trail System. Turkey Mountain was one of just six places to receive that designation.
“By designating these new National Trails, we recognize the efforts of local communities to provide outdoor recreational opportunities that can be enjoyed by everyone,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “Our world-class network of national trails provides easily accessible places to enjoy exercise and connect with nature in both urban and rural areas while also boosting tourism and supporting economic opportunities in local communities across the country.”
According to a statement from the Interior Department, National Recreation Trail designation recognizes existing trails and trail systems that link communities to recreational opportunities on public lands and in local parks across the Nation. The newly designated trails will receive a certificate of designation, a set of trail markers and a letter of congratulations from Secretary Jewell.
Achieving this designation was a combined effort from the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition’s grant writing team and the Tulsa River Parks Authority.
Aside from the recognition, the designation has other benefits for Turkey Mountain, including promotion, technical assistance, networking and access to funding. This will add to ongoing efforts by River Parks Authority and the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition to aid Turkey Mountain through education programs, trail maintenance work and clean-up days.
The news is the latest victory for Turkey Mountain. Last year, plans for an outlet mall on Turkey Mountain’s west side were abandoned thanks to widespread community opposition and an organized education effort on behalf of preserving green space. In April, voters approved a measure that purchased the land in question, with the purpose of folding it into River Parks’ inventory. And over the last few years, usage of the trails has grown as more people have learned about Turkey Mountain and what it has to offer. Turkey Mountain is already considered one of the country’s premier mountain biking trail systems, and is home to a number of trail running events every year. It’s also a popular site for hikers, geocachers and equestrians.
As for the trails that received the Interior Department’s designation, they offer a range of experiences for users. The Red Trail is a scenic 0.8-mile loop through wooded terrain and is considered one of the best trails for beginner hikers and runners to try. The Blue Trail, a 1.6-mile loop, climbs to near the top of Turkey Mountain, giving users a good dose of woodlands with a taste of elevation gain and a trip around a pond. The Yellow Trail, at 4.4 miles, climbs to the top of Turkey Mountain and traverses its ridge, while on its eastern flank offers some of the best views of the Arkansas River in all of Tulsa.
Venomous snakes are a fact of life for outdoor enthusiasts in Oklahoma. On a sunny day, snakes can often be found sunning themselves in the most inconvenient places. In Tulsa, we have seen them in the middle of paved trails and dirt trails alike. With the warmer winter and the onset spring, reptiles are emerging from hibernation earlier than usual. Rather than hiding inside until the temperature dips below freezing, we would like to provide these tips from one of our members who has first-hand knowledge of how to best care for a venomous bite.
Leslie, an avid trail runner and mountain biker, offers the following: “I was bitten by a copperhead on my foot almost two years ago up at Grand Lake…and got lucky. Thought I’d share a few things I learned from the experience in hopes to save time if someone were to be bitten.”
• Remain calm if bitten. Take deep breaths to control your heart rate. Pay attention to your body’s reaction the best you can.
• Do not put ice on the bite. This causes the venom to stay in one area and accelerates tissue deterioration.
• Don’t go all Crocodile Dundee and have someone suck the venom out. This is dangerous for both parties.
• Only major hospitals carry anti-venom. My options were St. Francis or go to Joplin. I was in Eucha and was taken by ambulance to Grove Integris Hospital (where they “couldn’t do anything for me”).
• Once at St. Francis, I learned that you have a 6-hour window to receive anti-venom (depending on snake/bite area). The anti-venom takes 1 hour to make. If you receive anti-venom, they will keep you in ICU for 3 days to monitor you, because anti-venom can be more dangerous than the bite itself and have long-lasting side effects.
By the time I made it to St. Francis, I was already on my fifth hour and thankfully was stable enough that I did not need anti-venom, just a night in the hospital and a painful/swollen leg for a couple of weeks.
Being bitten is a scary stressful situation, it is always best to know the information before you need it.
Remember it is always safest to assume every stick is a snake until proven otherwise.
It was a little more than a year ago that Tulsans faced the prospect of losing a large chunk of woodlands at Turkey Mountain to commercial development.
Citizens spoke up and were heard by city leaders as well as the prospective developers, and the land in question – about 48 acres at 61st Street and U.S. 75 – was removed from any plan for a shopping center.
The entities purchased the property with the intention of keeping the land undeveloped, but they also wished to serve as placeholders for the city of Tulsa.
Enter the Vision 2025 extension. The proposed renewal of the Vision 2025 sales tax includes more than $7 million for the land now being held by GKFF and QuikTrip. Should voters approve Vision 2025, some of the money generated by the sales tax extension would be used to pay back GKFF and QuikTrip. In turn, the land would be grafted into the existing Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area currently managed by the River Parks Authority.
City leaders wisely questioned commercial development of this acreage, and the developer correctly walked away. Public sentiment demanded it, as the overwhelming majority of Tulsans wished to see all of Turkey Mountain kept wild. Now the citizens have the opportunity to finish the work and vote yes on the Vision Tulsa extension on April 5.
The Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition sees the Vision extension as a wise move for the city, its residents, and for securing the future of Turkey Mountain. For that reason, we urge voters to approve the proposal on April 5.